Forethought
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Forethought

Hello. The News today, “There is no news”.

For all that self, mobile, citizen and social TV making is heralded as groundbreaking, whether that’s using mobile phones, camcorders or video journalism, it generally hasn’t revolutionised the style of news making we’ve become accustomed to seeing on television — whose style has migrated online.

David presenting the news circa 1995

Generally, you couldn’t distinguish a story made on a mobile phone from one made on a professional camera and you might argue why should you. Yet technological breakthroughs, overtime, have more often than not generated new ideas and styles in visual, textual and video journalism.

That often depends on how the custodians or those proxy to the technology allow for its distribution before determining its use with mass monetisation in mind. Think where the Internet would be if it wasn’t created by Tim Berners Lee — a scientist cum philanthropist.

Television [video] news periodically attracts criticism for what it does and while key industry members know it should reform, TV is a highly resilient medium. In the UK, according to the BBC’s former media correspondent Torin Douglas, writing for the RTS, Brit audiences still get 80% of their info from live TV.

TV generally responds by innovating within the boundary of its knowledge and passing that on as relevant practice. It generally rewards its own, says a senior UK television exec. This is also evident in what some refer to as Social TV — a convergence of TV utilising social network practices to enhance the experience of watching TV. In this context, TV generates the content for Twitter and the likes to echo and engage active participants in ongoing conversations.

However, TV’s form of news storytelling, whilst slowly integrating itself into modern practices retains a recurring Achilles. Its form, born in the 1950s from a particular wide set of cultural, technical and social circumstances has not fundamentally changed to address a world latticed by info-wars, depth manipulators and comported PR-diary driven stories [read this].

This is a fundamental issue and news’ engaging audience sees this clearer when faced with alternatives, such as Aj+, Vice, Vox and Mediastorm stories. It has been of huge interest to executives that, within three years of it launching a small team of producers could gain huge market share for the their story production. The type of story, where it’s being viewed and who’s telling it, matter but what’s becoming increasingly conscious to a generation is the content and style of story being offered. The principles of truth remain, the so called rules — a human construct framed around societal, literary and cultural frameworks — is a different matter.

The evidence is news audiences started to dip before the Internet took off. It wasn’t the Net that’s killing TV; TV was atrophying anyway. Choice came and the audience was changing; news wasn’t.

The New Unknown World

Story form, as viewed through narrative style, when content is generalised determines what gains traction with audiences and what’s shared. For what it’s worth too, the argument of making films on mobile because its cheaper is a circular phenomenon. Mobile phone’s killer app is its functionality as an access-all-day-studio linking with social tools. It demands a different style.

Difficult to do, if you view the world through the original prism and constraints of “what would television do?”

What is news and journalism, like many other disciplines, should involve a continually evolving process to address ever complex and nuanced issues and behaviours in our lives. On Radio 4 Today Professor Philip Howard @pnhoward spoke about the impact of Bots (Automated twits) which were dominant in the US elections. News current narrative had little response to its incursion. It’s a matter of the psychology of information, little learned in news or MA programmes, as well as technology.

But why change a cash cow? Reasons for the big media to keep on doing what they’ve been doing. Only, advertising money is migrating elsewhere, and if the UK’s conservative party ends the BBC’s license fee, it really is Kapuwt!

Meanwhile, just as data journalism, social media, and web-based story form have emerged from outside the periphery of main stream journalism, so the form I have been investigating with colleagues, cinema journalism, is a field gathering under the radar.

It makes sense when you think about it: if everyone’s publishing video, and the same story, what makes what you do standout? But that’s a presumptive reason, there are more concrete ones I can illustrate.

If you could explicitly combine contemporary design aesthetics; Art, literature, coding, and styles refined by cinema into a contemporary form of journalism using video, what would be the result, I illustrate in this video.

Why would you want to? We like to share and the evidence shows we share the personal and emotive, as opposed to the impersonal and detached — which television news was moulded from. The challenge to conventional news is to repackage their construct.

Cinema is not about making fictional films, but towards a story form, which encompasses a wider palate of narrative function, and often a visual spectacle. That’s why you can look at a factual scene or real picture and call it ‘cinematic’. Why shouldn’t a video journalism form reflect this in a way that connects with audiences in a emotionally intelligent way?

Over the course of my career over 25-years, and in the last ten years, I have created a body of work which has received awards and recognition. I’m humbled. I have shared at venues like the amazing SXSW, IfJ and MojoCon.

I‘ve investigated and discussed with the pioneers of earlier cinematic films, such as Robert Drew who made Primary (1960) which has been placed in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for its historical significance.

Presenting in Moscow at universities

In travelling the world, I’ve had the opportunity to analyse contemporary pioneers of cinema journalism news story forms and the argument is heuristic, if not evident from the data. It’s a form on the rise. More recently sharing my thoughts in Moscow and Ufa to journalists and university students, I looked at the principles of Russian Cinemaists, like Eisenstein.

Vice, is but one the emerging organisations that practices the many styles within Cinema journalism as I describe in this post: How Vice magazine came to represent a generation in news.

There are several issues that you might want to know? Cinema is not a one size fits all and to teach it requires an epistemology outside of broadcast’s environment. But it will become prominent, particularly with VR and 360 influencing current narratives. Factual Cinema, which I look to discuss in these articles and a book being considered by a publisher, existed before television journalism and it’s returning under a variety of styles. We’re back to the heady days of the 1930s when one day 18 April 1930, a BBC’s news announcer uttered the words, “There is no news. Of course he was wrong then, and now?

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is a journalist/coder, artist, news/ filmmaker and university lecturer. He’s a former network TV and radio journalist. He’s the recipient of several awards in Innovation and journalism and is involved with the Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB at the University of Westminster, with experts and PhD scholars helping to build new practices and theories towards news and journalism. Contact David Dunkley Gyimah at: d.gyimah@westminster.ac.uk or on twitter @viewmagazine. More from his website www.viewmagazine.tv.

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Forethought — Looks to the future and reflects through past learning, storytelling, media and tech evangelised by Brit journalist, storyteller and senior lecturer David Dunkley Gyimah, embracing the wisdom of crowds and sharing

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Dr. David Dunkley Gyimah

Dr. David Dunkley Gyimah

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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